The first major wildfire in Dorset during the recent spell of dry, warm weather took more than 60 firefighters to bring under control, including crews from Swanage and Wareham.
Nearly five hectares of gorse and heathland in Verwood near Ringwood were destroyed by the blaze that started on Wednesday 31st May 2023.
Fanned by windy conditions
Crews were called to the fire off St Stephen’s Lane at 4.19 pm which was being fanned by the windy conditions.
At the height of the incident, there were fire engines on the scene from Verwood, Ringwood, Wimborne, Christchurch, Poole, Shaftesbury, Fordingbridge and Ferndown.
Because of the difficult access to the affected area, small 4×4 pumping appliances were also sent from Verwood, Cranborne, Wimborne, Ferndown, Ringwood, Burley, Lyndhurst, Hamworthy, Poole and Christchurch.
The Unimog from Wareham, a water carrier from Poole and support appliances from Salisbury and Ferndown also attended.
At 7.50 pm Swanage Fire Station’s Land Rover was called to help and just before midnight, the station’s off road appliance arrived to relieve some of the crews who had been working since the start of the fire.
A crew from Swanage stayed all night damping down the smouldering heathland until they were relieved from their duties at 5.30 am on Thursday 1st June 2023.
“Cause is not yet known for this fire”
A spokesperson for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said:
“Firefighters used eight hose reel jets and four main jets to tackle the fire, which was under control shortly after midnight, with relief crews brought in throughout the evening.
“One fire engine and two small 4×4 appliances remained on scene until 8 am on Thursday morning, damping down and dealing with hot spots.
“While a cause is not yet known for this fire, the continued warm, dry weather means the risk of wildfire remains high.”
There is currently an Amber Alert for wildfires in place across Dorset and with the dry weather forecast to continue, the fire service is reminding people not to light fires outdoors including disposable barbecues.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue safety top tips
- Don’t have barbecues or campfires on the heath or in open spaces; the risk of a fire starting is too great.
- Extinguish cigarettes properly, don’t throw cigarette ends on the ground or out of car windows – take your litter home.
- If you see a fire in the countryside, call 999 and report it immediately to the fire and rescue service. Please provide as much detail as possible about location and access, but also make sure you are in a safe place.
- More on staying safe and enjoying outside areas
- Anything suspicious on the heath or in an open space, should be reported to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.